Annawan High School captured its first girls basketball sectional championship since 1978, defeating Lincoln Trail Conference rival Kewanee Wethersfield 58-44 in Thursday’s Midland 1A Sectional finals at Varna.
Jordan Jackson led the Bravettes (29-1) with 24 points and 10 rebounds. Jackson, a senior standout who’s heading to Western Illinois on a volleyball scholarship, had been a part of sectional defeats the past two seasons and told the Moline Dispatch she didn’t want “our younger players to have that feeling.”
Sophomore center Celina VanHyfte, who scored 14 points, praised Jackson for really stepping up her game as a senior leader.
Annawan coach Jason Burkiewicz implemented a new 1-3-1 half-court trap he said was schemed by junior high coach Zach DeMay. DeMay also was instrumental in utilizing the 1-3-1 he learned from playing under Brad Bickett at Bureau Valley as an assistant coach with the Annawan boys team when it made its state run in 2009.
The Bravettes (30-1), No. 1 ranked in 1A by the Associated Press, advance to the Bloomington 1A Supersectional at Illinois Wesleyan University to face LeRoy at 7:30 p.m. Monday. LeRoy beat Urbana U-High 65-48 at Colfax to win its first sectional in school history.
• Home of the Braves: Burkiewicz, a member of Hall’s 1998 state runner-up basketball team, succeeded Matt Huber as AHS girls coach when Huber came to Princeton in 2010. Burkiewicz previously coached at Princeton. He is assisted by Sheffield native Caitlyn Corwin, a Bureau Valley graduate. ... 2010 Junior Miss Bureau County Megan Foes of Mineral is a sophomore contributor for the Bravettes.
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• At Lanark: Freeport Aquin knocked out Three Rivers Conference champ Prophetstown 36-24 in Thursday’s 1A finals at Lanark.
At Rock Falls: Stillman Valley sent the home team away with a heart-breaking, last-second 46-44 loss in the sectional finals at Rock Falls Thursday on a layup by Robyn Alde with 1.8 seconds left to play. Alde wasn’t even supposed to be an option on Stillman Valley’s final possession, but the 6-foot senior forward sent the Cardinals into the Elite Eight.
“We were just looking for an opening, and it just so happened that it was on the weak side,” Alde said. “Samantha [Hellyer] did a great job getting the ball to me, and I didn’t even have time to think about it. I just shot it.”
The Rockets (21-11) led 41-36 after Jordan Giddings (8 points, 5 rebounds) hit a pair of free throws with 2:22 to play. But Stillman Valley (25-6), maybe spurred on by two technical free-throw misses 14 seconds before Giddings’ makes, had the answer.
Jessica Gerig (15 points, 7 rebounds) and Alde (8 points, 7 rebounds, 4 assists, 2 blocks) hit shots after nice moves to get to within one, then Alde found an open Katie Fowler (10 points) to give the Cardinals the lead.
“That was my one big mistake, and I cost my team two potential points,” said Gerig, who received the technical due to her reaction to a traveling call. “Thankfully they weren’t able to hit those, but I didn’t keep my cool when I needed to.”
Stillman Valley (25-6), which knocked out Spring Valley 63-30 in Tuesday’s semifinals, advances to the Monmouth Supersectional against Eureka. Eureka, the Lady Bruins Classic champion, edged Sherrard 49-48 in Thursday’s sectional finals at Knoxville. Kayla Gold had 27 points for the Hornets (24-6), who won their first sectional since 1988.
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